Implement reforms to improve economy

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EDITOR — Zimbabwe used to have well-developed input support, manufacturing and processing industries.  However, the lack of investment and lines of credit made it difficult for these industries to retool and invest in better plant and machinery. Plants to produce agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and seed are operating below capacity due to dilapidation and lack of repair and maintenance.

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This has resulted in high cost of inputs, leading to Zimbabwe’s produce being uncompetitive on the regional and international market.

Market access for areas like horticulture, sugar, beef and cotton, among other crops was negatively affected. Horticulture was the fastest growing sector and generated significant amounts of foreign currency, and at one point becoming the second largest foreign exchange earner after tobacco. The horticulture export industry grew from US$32 million in 1990/91 to about US$143 million in the 1998/99 season.

However, because of sanctions, the country lost most of its niche and lucrative markets for horticulture products. Previously, farmers used to export horticulture produce to the Netherlands and the UK. However, these markets were closed due to sanctions, resulting in a significant decline in the industry.

By 2005, horticulture exports had gone down to about US$72 million, with the value further tumbling to US$40 million by 2009. 
These evil sanctions have not spared the cotton industry, which is failing to access the EU markets directly, but only through middlemen, resulting in the loss of between 5 to 10 percent of the value of produce. 

The cotton industry is failing to pay for inputs, spare parts and machinery to companies outside the country. Payments are blocked; foreign companies demand first class bank guarantors and funds take long to process.

The shortage of vaccines and other drugs is a clear indication how sanctions have also affected animal health in Zimbabwe.  Relevant departments have failed to control diseases like foot-and-mouth and this in turn affects the country’s beef export. 

Given that 70 percent of funding for animal health programmes was through collaborative work, the withdrawal of funds hit the sector hard. Since 2001, there have been huge shortages in vaccines, dipping chemicals and antibiotics, unlike from 1980 to 1990 where there were no recorded shortages.
Tinotenda Gava.

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